The ultimate outcome of a great meeting is the feeling that your team is aligned and working together to make important decisions. I have a meeting minutes template that will help you achieve that.
With simplicity in mind, over the years I’ve developed a super simple meeting template that helps me keep my meetings focused and organized. I’d like to share it with you.
Your job as a leader is to bring focus to the table and clarity to actions so your team can deliver results.
This special template uses a minimalist approach. Print a few copies, bring them with you to your meetings, and try it yourself. It is also available in Spanish and Portuguese.
How to get the Most out of your Meetings
I usually print a batch of about 20 copies of this template on letter size paper, enough for a week of work. I staple them together and have them within arm’s reach on my desk — or inside my laptop bag if I’m on the road.
First, at the top of the template, I set the date, marking the day of the week, date and hour of the meeting.
Next, I write down the meeting attendee names as they arrive in the room or to the call.
I usually write people’s first names, or sometimes name initials. I often add a small star beside the names of people who are joining remotely by phone. I also include an abbreviation for name of the place where person is calling from.
If the meeting has time constraints, I’ll ask someone to be my timer and to remind me when there are only 10 minutes left until the end of the meeting. I put a “(T)” sign beside his or her name on the attendee list. This helps me be more time efficient, finalizing important discussions before the meeting is over.
The meeting starts and I remind everyone of the meeting objective. I do this to bring some purpose and context to the meeting.
The next step in this meeting minutes template is to start building the meeting agenda. I simply list the items I’d like to discuss during the meeting. Then, I ask each person if they have anything else they would like to discuss in the meeting. At the end I have list of meeting topics.
Together we set the agenda priority. For each item, we define what’s important and what can be discussed later. Many times, we won’t have time to discuss all items on the agenda. However, when you have a prioritized list, you’ll know that you’ll be tackling the most important things first.
Once the agenda is set and the meeting priorities are agreed upon, I start going through the items one by one, in sequence.
How to write the meeting minutes? I take meeting notes using the left side of the sheet, jotting down reminders regarding relevant information.
If a topic that is not part of the scope of the meeting comes up during the discussions, I ask the group if we can park the item in the parking lot so we don’t lose our discussion focus. We can always come back to it at the end of the meeting. This is done so the meeting is not sidetracked by topics that are unrelated to the agenda.
If an action point is assigned to someone, I add it the action items section of the template. I also include an owner and, if necessary, a deadline for that action.
If for any reason I need more space, I get another blank meeting template, cross out its header and write “cont.” at the top.
At the end of the meeting, I wrap up the discussions and review the action items with the group.
If there is still time, I bring up the items in the Parking Lot section to evaluate if they are still relevant. If so, I consider having an extra meeting to solve them specifically. Sometimes, if the situation warrants, I may ask a couple participants to stay after the meeting to tackle the remaining (extra-agenda) parked items.
Depending on the dynamics of the project, I take a picture of the minutes with my cell phone and circulate it to the team. Alternatively, I may add the meeting notes and action items to an email and circulate them in a more formal way.
In any case, at our next meeting I can always refer back to my meeting minutes binder and check if there are still any pending actions from previous meetings.